Rock and desert racers take on Johnson Valley, CA


Imagine going to the Indy 500 or Daytona for the weekend, watching the races during the day, then getting to take your own car out on the track, drive it in any direction with hundreds of others doing the same. That’s one of the unique things you can do at the annual event known as KOH (King of the Hammers). Racers, on the other hand, have to tackle the roughest desert course and the most grueling rock sections any vehicle has driven through—ever! Zollinger Race Products owner Travis Zollinger stated, “King of the Hammers really magnifies your weaknesses.” Travis wishes he wasn’t right, but he crashed out of the event. For early leader Ronnie Anderson, the day showed a weak transmission in his RZR. For race favorite Phil Blurton, it produced a broken axle and hub. Yamaha’s Brock Heger had a different kind of bad luck when he made a wrong turn and missed a complete rock trail, penalizing him in the race. Another Yamaha driver, Kyle Anderson, in an RMAX lost his tools and couldn’t make simple trailside repairs, costing him the race.

Kyle Chaney got his second Hammers win in a row and his third podium in as many attempts using Maxxis tires. He beat his Can-Am teammate, Hunter Miller (2020 winner), by over 20 minutes. Here, he is just passing early leader Ronnie Anderson in a new RZR Turbo R, which was just sidelined by a transmission issue.


Jeremy McGrath had a great run this year in his Maxxis-backed Kawasaki KRX 1000. He ended up finishing on the podium in the rock race, earning a top-20 overall.


RJ Anderson took home the Stock Turbo win running a RZR Pro XP. After 5 hours and 12 minutes in the rocks, he ended up fourth overall and the best finish for Polaris.


KOH week has included a desert race for two years that’s now called the Toyo Desert Challenge. Mitch Guthrie dominated the field in his new RZR Pro R in what Ultra4 is calling the Prototype class. Wayne Matlock finished second.


The significance of this image is the small transmission dish perched high on the rocks above these racers. The entire race was streamed live on and on www.facebook/ultra4racinglive. This location was 25 miles from the start/finish line, and the production truck and could be watched from the main pit area known as “Hammertown.” The race can still be watched on Ultra4’s channels. Go check it out and see it in person next year.


However, Can-Am Kyle Chaney does what he does every year and shows why he is King of the Hammers. Chaney makes the trip out from Ohio every year and gets his Maxxis-equipped Can-Am X3 to the front by the end of the race. This year marks his second win in a row for Chaney and third time on the podium in as many races. Hunter Miller finished second, and Paul Wolf rounded out the all Can-Am X3 podium. RJ Anderson brought Polaris its highest finish in the rock race at fourth overall and first in the stock Turbo class. New for 2022 was the addition of Stock, Modified, Turbo, Non Turbo and Unlimited classes in the rock and desert races.

Bailey Cole put the Honda Talon in the winner’s circle for the UTV Stock N/A class. He finished 40 minutes in front of the next competitor and didn’t break a single belt.


There was lots of carnage in the UTV portion of the Toyo Tires Desert Challenge. The track designers built in bypasses to keep the course from getting clogged in the tight, tricky or steep sections. This was one of those sections right off the start, so it made for an interesting day for sure.


This year a new race was added to KOH week. About an hour after the last finisher came across the finish line in the Can-Am UTV Hammers Championship (the rock race), the top 20 overall finishers lined up and fought it out in a four-lap race around the qualifying course, under the lights and in front of all the spectators. Brian Deegan took the win and a $10,000 bonus.
Photo by Regine Trias


First-time KOH racer Paul Wolff turned some heads in this year’s rock race by finishing third. He was fast all day long, just not fast enough.


Austin Weiland finished first in the more competitive Pro Turbo class in the desert race. He beat Kyle Chaney by seven minutes.


Racers took home big money this year. The race promoters actually threw in an extra $100K to the pot since the spectator turnout was so good. Polaris RZR driver RJ Anderson did even better than the Can-Am drivers with a $18,593 check for first in Stock Turbo, and Bailey Cole came out $8367 richer for the Stock N/A victory.


In the desert race portion of KOH week, it was Mitch Guthrie who led the field in his new Polaris Pro R, and Austin Weiland (X3) took the Pro Turbo win after 200 miles of rough driving through the Johnson Valley desert.

See the 2023 KOH dates here: ULTRA4 ANNOUNCES KING OF THE HAMMERS 2023 DATES – UTV Action Magazine

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